Dean Bowen’s works are characterised by vibrant colour, environmental symbolism and dynamic composition. His depictions of objects, people, insects and animals reflect the artist’s quirky and infectious sense of humour whilst also reminding us of our common struggles and triumphs. Dean also plays with aspects of scale reflecting on both the monumental as well as the miniature, often merging and juxtaposting the two. Urban and rural scenes are brought to life with comical protagonists who possess complex personalities and emotions despite their simplified rendition. The contrast between the seemingly calm, natural environment of birds and animals and the frantic, congested urban landscapes of mankind carries a message calling for a greater appreciation of the beauty and simplicity of natural life. As a painter, printmaker and sculptor, Dean creates relationships between these mediums with, for example, his sculpture often an extension of his paintings and prints. A concern for happiness is evident in Dean’s work, his wit and naive style the hallmarks of an artist engaging with a wide audience whilst retaining sophisticated dialogues.
Dean Bowen has exhibited with much acclaim in Australia and overseas. He has also worked on a number of commissions, including a major tapestry for the City of Melbourne’s Town Hall and recent sculpture for the Canterbury and Shepparton regions of Victoria. In 2008, the ACT Government purchased a major sculpture of Dean’s, “The big little man”, which is permanently installed in Petrie Plaza, Canberra city. Dean is a regular participant in national and international awards, winning the sponsor’s prize in the 4th Sapporo International Print Biennale in Japan in 1998, and, in 2003, the people’s choice award at the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award and the Tai-he masterpiece award at the 1st International Print Biennial of Beijing. He was selected as a finalist in the 2009 Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Dean’s works are in many significant collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, Canberra, Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris, France) and the Contemporary Art and Culture Centre (Osaka, Japan).